More Americans Are Disillusioned With the College Degree

Posted by Liz Dwyer

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Blame the Great Recession. According to a new survey commissioned by the Country Financial Security Index, Americans are increasingly disillusioned with the value of a college degree. The number of adults who say that college is a good investment has declined from 81 percent in 2008 to just 57 percent today.

Women are still more likely to believe in getting a degree, with 60.1 percent saying that college is still a good investment. However, only 53.2 percent of their male peers agree, which could be a nod to the realities of gender inequality our society. After all, women make less than men at every educational level and a man without a degree is more likely to get a decent-paying job in the same field than his female peers.

Interestingly, given that total student loan debt is now past $1 trillion and continues to spiral upward, most respondents aren't letting cost be the driving factor when they're evaluating colleges. A full 62.2 percent of respondents said the quality of education is still the most important factor when it comes to choosing a school. In comparison, only 25 percent believe cost should be looked at first, and 12.8 percent simply weren't sure.  

Of course, to put it all into perspective, the people to really ask whether a college degree is worth the money might be those who only have a high school diploma. The latest Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows that 8.1 percent of high school graduates over the age of 25 are unemployed compared to 3.9 percent of college graduates. The average high school graduate can also only expect to earn $1.3 million over her lifetime, compared to the $2.67 million the average college graduate rakes in. Although a degree has never been a guarantee of a job or successful career, when you look at those numbers, going to college definitely seems worth it.

Photo via (cc) Flickr user Jason Bache